The discussion of fall seasonal beers typically revolves around pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests, which is interesting because these two styles both lack the big hop flavors that dominate the current beer scene. This is why its no surprise that another fall style that is quickly gaining popularity is fresh hopped beers. Hops are harvested in the fall and most are dried immediately for use throughout the year. This drying process results in some loss of flavor and aroma due to the evaporation of volatile aromatic compounds. Fresh hopped beers are made with hops that have just been harvested, usually within a day or two of harvest to maximize the flavor and aroma of the hops. Most fresh-hopped beers are American pale ales or IPAs, but RiverWalk Brewing Company out of Newburyport, MA has started brewing a different style of fresh hopped beer each fall. Their 2015 version of Farm to Kettle is a Belgian IPA, brewed with expressive Belgian style yeast along with hops freshly harvested from nearby Tamarack Farmstead. RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015 is available for a limited time on draft and in bottles.
RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015 pours a clear golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a mixture of citrusy hops and fruity yeast. The fresh hops come through strongly in the flavor, notes of pine, grass and lemon along with an herbal quality that is distinct to freshly harvested hops. The hops also add a solid hit of bitterness. The Belgian style yeast forms a nice interplay with the hops adding touches of green apple, pepper and pear. The beer is rounded out with some light malts, hints of crackers and white bread. The beer is crisp and easy to drink, and moderately alcoholic at 6.5% ABV. Farm to Kettle finishes with a bitter kick and some lingering yeasty esters. I really enjoyed this beer, the combination of the Belgian style yeast and the fresh hops really work well together. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
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